As adolescent atheist for a paper, I wrote on the irreconcilable Gods
of the Old and New Testaments, I read the Bible about cover to cover
only to wonder why it was Jonah the Prophet found it so odious
to preach judgment to the people of Nineveh that he fled God’s mission
deep in the hold of a ship sleeping as a great storm sent by God
threatens to overwhelm the vessel so the sailors throw lots which fall
on Jonah who admits his rebellion brought God’s storm on them all
so reluctantly they pitch him over the side into the sea where a great fish
the leviathan whale was appointed to swallow him up so that he was
three days and three nights in the belly of the beast until he prayed
to be allowed to go to Nineveh. What’s this thing between Jonah and Nineveh?

Now I see on Yahoo! Scrawl the story about how in the over 4 month siege
of the Iraqi city of Mosul the Iraq (Shiite)government forces have taken
the site of the Tomb of Jonah which was blown up by fighters of the IS
Islamic State , the New Caliphate, declared in 2014 after a few thousand
insurgents took the city from tens of thousands of U.S. trained and equipped
Iraqi government forces who fled after their officers absconded to Kurdistan.
With Jonah’s tomb out of their way the funda-mentalist fighters proceeded
to dig down under in search of archeological plunder and the mound on which
the mosque stood turned out now to be an ancient foundation tell that held
a 2600 year old Assyrian Palace because as legend had held all along Mosul
was really the ancient capital of the Assyrian Empire, the city of Nineveh.

The Assyrians were a rude crew who put together the first inter-regional empire
uniting the Northern Nile and Tigris-Euphrates river valleys and were famous
for flaying captives alive so they left what may the first descriptions of what
we named Soldier’s Heart in Civil War, shell shock WWI, combat fatigue WWII
and, of course, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD from Vietnam Era vets.
(And now the Forever War vets, too)

2700 years ago these Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom (of Israel)
of which Jonah was a prophet to transport their elites to far reaches of exile
to become known as the ten lost tribes of Israel so no wonder after all Jonah
did not want to be sent to Nineveh to warn of God’s impending wrath if they
did not repent and immediately change their ways, but, oh, what a miracle
that those left behind by this horror of the birth of empire put first a Christian
then Islamic shrine to the Prophet of the northern (Jewish) kingdom on top
the grand palace of its conqueror and that deep down in the striated tell
of the palace the Yahoo! Scrawl shows a picture of a bas relief of three fine
female forms who disperse the “Water of Life” with their willow wand scepters
just like the wise women of the Standing Rock Water Protectors who stood
I think like sturdy stone against the Black Snake pipeline of tar sand oil dug
across the guts of our continent that threatens the Water of Life here and now.
(thank you very much Agent Orange Head
occupant in a White House
executive order


James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. Van Looy leads the Labyrinth Creative Movement Workshop, which his Labyrinth titled poems are based on. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.